Summit Carbon Solutions map.

Public meetings are underway this week in several Iowa cities, the first steps an Iowa-based company must follow as it seeks a state permit to build an underground pipeline for carbon through 30 Iowa counties.

As Radio Iowa reported in late August, the potential pipeline has been dubbed the Midwest Carbon Express by its developer, Summit Carbon Solutions. Jesse Harris, a spokesman for the company, says it would be the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world.

“Our project would connect 31 different ethanol plants across the Midwest, including 12 plants here in Iowa,” Harris says. “We would capture the CO2 emissions before they were emitted into the atmosphere. We would compress those emissions into a pipeline and we would transport it to North Dakota, where it would be permanently stored.”

Harris says ethanol plants that feed into the pipeline would become a so-called “net zero” fuel source by the end of the decade.

“It would allow ethanol plants to be able to sell their product and sell it at a premium in low carbon fuel standard markets like California, Oregon, Washington and more,” Harris says, “and give them a real competitive, economic advantage in the years to come.”

Businessman Bruce Rastetter of Alden, the former president of the Iowa Board of Regents, owns the company that ultimately hopes to get Iowa Utilities Board approval for the project. The pipeline would stretch through more than 700 miles of Iowa and the first informational meeting about the plan was held Monday in Steamboat Rock. Meetings are scheduled today in Rock Rapids and Sioux Center. Two more meetings on Thursday will be held in Le Mars and Sioux City.

(By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars; Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson also contributed to this story.)